confession: i don’t like my novel’s protagonist.

Disclaimer: This will be ranty and disjointed.  I can never think clearly when I’m editing.  Plus I’ve had too much coffee this morning.  (Disclaimer #2: A little clickbait never hurt anyone. *wink*)

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oh look it’s me

So I was editing my novel a few minutes ago (me??? editing??? what is this?!), and I realized that… I don’t really like my main character???

Now, granted, I’ve known that for a while, but it just now hit me.

Beta readers of this book (The Art of Letting Go, which you can learn about here because it’s been so long that I posted about it that my readers probably forgotten about it) understand this, because they know her.  (And, hey, if you’ve read it and you feel this way, let me know in the comments!)

But, just in case you don’t, here’s the gist: Daniella James is a very complicated young woman, made even more so by the fact that (spoiler) her boyfriend dies.  Killed right in front of her.  She’s already got Mommy & Daddy Issues, and those are complicated by the loss of her future and only security (which she’d wrapped up in her boyfriend).

Start out with an anxiety-ridden, pessimistic teenage girl, multiply it by a million, add a dash of cynicism, and you’ve got Danni.

I knew from the get-go that Danni would be different from my previous protag, Nikki, but I didn’t know how different.  Now, four drafts later, she’s basically Nikki’s polar opposite.  She’s rash and negative and cusses and doesn’t really believe in any kind of higher power and doesn’t think about the consequences of her actions and I honestly don’t know if we’d be friends in real life.

(Obviously she changes by the end into a more likable person, but for a good chunk of the book – the first third at least – she’s not the greatest person in the world.)

This got me thinking… why write characters that you, at best, disagree with?  Or even, at the very worst, don’t like?

The short answer is character change.

Good books thrive on conflict.  Boring books have no conflict.  Who wants to read about a static character?  Um, not me.

So if a book has to start out with a faulty character so that they’ll change for the better because of the circumstances they have to go through, bring me that character.

I’m fascinated with faulty characters.  Give me the bad boys and let me cheer for them as they’re put through trials that break their hardened shell and reveal the softer young man inside.  (I’m specifically thinking about Bender from The Breakfast Club or Jughead Jones from Riverdale.)

The other day, I watched a made-for-TV drama based on the life of Michael Glatze, a gay activist who slowly lets go of his gay identity after becoming a Christian, eventually renouncing it, taking on the identity of a heterosexual man, marrying a woman, and becoming a Christian pastor.  It. was. fascinating.  Although I thought the movie was poorly made (it tried too hard to be artistic and some of the actors couldn’t do their jobs very well because of the stilted script) and although I disagreed with some of it (both with some of the things the homosexual characters and even some of the heterosexual, Christian characters said), I’m still thinking about it.  It challenged me.  (Here’s the trailer.  Bear in mind that this movie is TV-MA for language and some sexual scenes, and I still don’t know how the director wanted to portray Michael, but you can do some Googling and read exactly what he’s said on the subject.)

All this to say, what are your thoughts on unreliable or unlikable protagonists?  Have you encountered any of these lately in movies or books?  Did they change or were they more likable by the end?  What changed?  Let’s talk!

currently.

{note: this is an update post on my ridiculously crazy life. all of my creative energy seems to be spent on polishing my novel and, well, you’ll see. i’ll be back with thought-out posts soon, i promise.}

reading: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I’m like a third of the way through it, but still feeling “meh” about it because no one told me that it doesn’t have the characters from Illuminae in it. So I’m slightly irritated. Next on the list are Ready Player One, This Savage Song, and Wonder. Oh, and I’m also reading Before You Meet Prince Charming. *sigh* If you follow me on Goodreads, you already know my thoughts on it, but, to sum up, I’m pretty “meh” about this, too. The ideas in this book are so close to truth (and some of them are), but then they’re taken to the extreme. (For instance, did you know that “watching TV is like dating the world”? I quoted that verbatim – you can find it in the book yourself if you don’t believe me.) So yeah. My thoughts on that book will probably take at least one post, so look forward to that at some point when I’m done slogging my way through this book.

watching: Band of Brothers. Oh. My. Gosh. So amazing. It’s now one of my favorite war movies (or mini-series, I guess). I was so emotional on July 4th this year because my siblings and I watched that, and then Hacksaw Ridge, the week before. Talk about feels. I’m also watching a few of Chris Evans’s lesser-known movies, and they’re great! My sibs & I also watched Robin Hood: Men In Tights for the first time the other night (the first in our Mel Brooks marathon), and I loved it! Speaking of marathons, I’m also on a John Hughes kick as well. The Breakfast Club is one of my favorite movies now, and I can’t wait to watch the rest of his films. I watched Sixteen Candles the other night and marveled at the fact that the director of Spider-Man: Homecoming (another EXCELLENT film, btw; definitely a favorite as well) wanted to give Homecoming a Hughes feel, so the cast had a marathon one day. The result is pretty obvious!

listening: Anything by AJR (esp “Weak” & “Come Hang Out”) and Jon Bellion (esp “Maybe IDK” & “Human”). I’m obsessed with both. I’ve also been on an Idina Menzel kick lately because I saw her in concert on Saturday night and I’m still not over it. She’s amazing, y’all. Towards the end, she sang the beginning of “For Good” without a mic or accompaniment, and it was flawless. Literal queen. If/Then is a current go-to soundtrack if I need something fun to listen to (provided I skip some feelsy songs that make me cry).

writing: The Art of Letting Go, obvs. I’m still working through my beta-readers’ critiques, and it’s actually been going VERY well. The fourth draft (post-critiques) is better than anything I ever thought I could write, and that’s 100% due to my amazing readers who have given me feedback and helped me shape it into something amazing. Someone even went so far as to give me nine pages full of questions to answer, and that’s making the most impact. (You know who you are and I love you.) Also, recent events have gotten me PUMPT for my next novel (Pinterest board to be revealed soon *cue fanfare music*), so I’m pretty psyched about that.

celebrating: OH and I got my first rejection letter the other day, so that was actually pretty great. I got myself some ice cream after I got the email (which was so sweet, btw!). I was a little disappointed, sure, but I was more excited than anything else. After all, an actual agent read the first ten pages of my novel, and if that’s not cool, I don’t know what is. (Well, having someone actually ask for the whole thing would be pretty cool, too, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.)

working: I’ve had some pretty extensive time off my nannying job this month, so I filled it first with going to my grandparents’ house for a week with my cousins (we had a Clue night where we dressed as the characters as we played the game, and it was a highlight of my life). I also did a temp job as a saleswoman that I absolutely fell. in. love. with (and may or may not have applied for a full-time position because I loved it so much), so that was pretty cool. The pay ain’t too shabby, either. Plus, that incredibly adult feeling of being a productive member of society and having a purpose and something worthy to fill the day with was pretty great, too.

acting: Oh and I’m in a play. That’s been the biggest thing that’s happened lately and it’s honestly filling my life with so much joy. It’s a kids play at a local theatre, and one of my best friends is in it, so I went about a month ago to listen to her read and ended up being given a part after someone dropped out. Long story short, tech week starts tonight and we open on Friday. After wanting to be in a play for literally ten years, it’s so amazing to finally have it happen, even if it’s a play for kids. (Which is even better because experience is experience!) I’m bonding with all of these amazing people and it’s been so much fun. I’m already dreading closing night! (My life has revolved around theatre lately and I don’t hate it. Saturday, I went to rehearsal, then came home, took a nap, and then went to see Idina. Then, Sunday, I hung out with friends who were in town before seeing my brother steal the show as the Tin Man in a local production of The Wizard of Oz before bringing another friend home to work on makeup for our show! Like I said, theatre life isn’t too bad.)

So, yeah. All of my creative juices seem to be taken up by this novel and this play. I swear I’ll be back soon with posts more worthy of your time (and less self-focused, GOSH, but I wanted to tell you guys all of these things that didn’t warrant entire posts), but for right now, I’ve gotta go back to writing before leaving for rehearsal early to find some glittery eyeliner and snake tattoos!

love week | some fanvids of my favorite ships.

Hello all!  Welcome to the week of Valentine’s Day, which usually finds me and my single friends eating chocolate and watching sappy movies.  (The same can probably be said of you, too, if you’re single – don’t even try to lie to me.)  This week, I’m going to be indulging in all things romantic, because even if I’m not in a relationship, I can at least enjoy the fictional people who are, right?

Literally just like the title says.  Warning: Probably spoilers.

focal point | sherlolly {sherlock}

I’ve been shipping this since Season One, guys.  And it was worth it.  It’s always been worth it.

the last time | literati {gilmore girls}

Y’all know I didn’t like Jess.  But then he grew on me after I wrote that post, and, by the time A Year in the Life came around, he was (imho) the best of the three for Rory.  So here I sit, still holding my opinion of angsty teenage Jess, but having an entirely new opinion of AYitL Jess.  (And yes of course I’m planning Literati fanfiction.)

this is for the lonely | peter + wendy {peter pan}

Yes, I do ship small children.

i should have saved you | mileven {stranger things}

I will never get over this video, just like I will never get over this ship.  I’ll be sobbing over it ’til Season Two premieres in October.  (And this is the saddest video in this bunch, so I’m sorry.)

this | tim + mary {about time}

Current favorite movie (About Time) and current favorite actor (Domhnall Gleeson).  I love this so much.

tenerife sea | mondler {f.r.i.e.n.d.s}

I sobbed after Chandler proposed to Monica and then sobbed all over again when I found this video.  They’re my absolute favorite ship from this show, and I love them both dearly.

it’s you and me forever | cory + shawn {boy meets world}

Now, I don’t ship these two (I’m a hardcore Copanga and Shawngela shipper), but I love their bromance, their friendship, and how they’re always there for one another.  I love the love they have for one another.  Period.

teenage dream | copanga {boy meets world}

THIS is my main Boy Meets World ship.  Literal goals.

saturn | steggy {captain america}

Now, I don’t know who the crap allowed this, but I know I love it.  So bittersweet.  It perfectly encapsulates their story.

please don’t say you love me | knighthouse {emma}

Okay so the thing I love about this video is that it’s not just Emma Approved – it’s all the favorites!  Clueless (hello, Paul Rudd), the ’09 version (practically perfect in every way), and that other version that people like for some reason.  Love it.

Well, this concludes Love Week, as I’ll be at a cabin in Tennessee for the rest of the weekend with some of my very bestest friends.  What are some of your favorite fanvids?  What did you think about Love Week as a whole?  (Because I do love feedback & knowing that you guys like what I blog about.)

love week | fictional guys i’d totally marry.

Hello all!  Welcome to the week of Valentine’s Day, which usually finds me and my single friends eating chocolate and watching sappy movies.  (The same can probably be said of you, too, if you’re single – don’t even try to lie to me.)  This week, I’m going to be indulging in all things romantic, because even if I’m not in a relationship, I can at least enjoy the fictional people who are, right?

fictional guys i'd totally marry.jpg

I was going to write a blog post on my favorite fictional couples, but it turns out I already did that (and my post is pretty dang great, so check it out).  I’ve also done post after post after post about being single (going twenty-two years strong, how’s that for a RECORD), so read those, too.

So since my sister is getting flowers from a male non-relative who likes her for the second year in a row, I’m going to think about all the fictional guys I’d totally marry if they existed.

No judgment, guys.  You and I both know that I have Standards and A List, and I probably wouldn’t actually marry half of these guys, but it’s fun to pretend, so… no judgment.

Anne-and-Gil-talking.jpgGilbert Blythe | Anne of Green Gables

Because who the crap could resist those beautiful eyes, that dazzling smile, and just his entire winning personality???  Anne tried, but couldn’t for long.  He’d tease you but he’d also love the heck outta you.  I’m down for that.

“There would never be anyone for me but you. “

Levi Stewart | Fangirl

This one’s obvious – he loves books (even though he can’t read very well), he’s a fanboy, he’s super sweet and super funny, and he works at Starbucks and makes his own unique drinks – which he brings to Cather.  I mean, it’s a win-win-win.

When she opened her door, Levi was sitting in the hallway, his legs bent in front of him, hunched forward on his knees. He looked up when she stepped out.
“I’m such an idiot,” he said.
Cath fell between his knees and hugged him.
“I can’t believe I said that,” he said. “I can’t even go nine hours without seeing you.”

Neville Longbottom | Harry Potter

Nev wasn’t much to look at when he was younger (I blame it on the fake teeth and fatsuits they put Matt in, because he wasn’t that ugly in the book) and he’s a tad forgetful, but he’s got a heart of gold.  Plus, he bailed Harry out more than once.  What’s not to love?

“I’ll join you when Hell freezes over,” said Neville. “Dumbledore’s Army!” he shouted, and there was an answering cheer from the crowd, whom Voldemort’s Silencing Charms seemed unable to hold.

HIS. EYES..pngPeeta Mellark | The Hunger Games

M’KAY, listen UP.  My college/career Bible study got into a heated debate about Gale vs. Peeta and I’m pretty sure Team Peeta won because (1) he saved Katniss’s life more than once, (2) Gale basically killed Prim, and (3) he’s such a strong guy – physically, emotionally, and mentally.  I’ll always be Team Peeta.

“We were five. You had a plaid dress and your hair…it was in two braids instead of one. … So that day, in music assembly, the teacher asked who knew the valley song. Your hand shot right up in the air. She put you up on a stool and had you sing it for us. And I swear, ever bird outside the windows fell silent. And right when your song ended, I knew -just like your mother- I was a goner.”

Faramir | Lord of the Rings

My siblings and I just recently introduced some friends to Lord of the Rings, and watching the extended versions all over again rekindled my love for this man.  He’s selfless, sacrificial, and willing to do anything for those he loves (even his deadbeat dad, who doesn’t love him at all).  Move over, Eowyn – I’d marry this guy so hard.

“Then must I leave my own people, man of Gondor?” she said. “And would you have your proud folk say of you: ‘There goes a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North! Was there no woman of the race of Numenor to choose?”
“I would,” said Faramir. And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.

Mac Campbell | Rose in Bloom

If you know who this guy is, bless you.  He’s a bookworm, super smart, and just the sweetest little pumpkin that there ever was.  The first time I read Eight Cousins, I knew I loved him, and Rose in Bloom just cemented my adoration for this guy.

“What have you decided to be, Mac?” asked Rose, as they went up the avenue side by side.
“A man first, and a good one if possible; after that, what God pleases.”
Something in the tone, as well as the words, made Rose look up quickly into Mac’s face, to see a new expression there.  It was indescribable; but she felt as if she had often done when watching the mists part suddenly, giving glimpses of some mountaintop, shining serene and high against the blue.
“I think you will be something splendid; for you really look quite glorified, walking under this arch of yellow leaves with the sunshine on your face,” she exclaimed, conscious of a sudden admiration never felt before; for Mac was the plainest of all the cousins.
“I don’t know about that; but I have my dreams and aspirations, and some of them are pretty high ones.  Aim at the best, you know, and keep climbing if you want to get on,” he said, looking at the asters with an inward sort of smile, as if he and they had some sweet secret between them.

dylan-dylan-ox27brien-hot-sexy-beast-Favim.com-1068521.pngStiles Stalinski | Teen Wolf

Here’s where my “no judgment” rule comes in.  Don’t ask how I found this show, why I started watching it, or how far into it I am.  Never mind, I’ll give you one answer – I started watching it because of Dylan O’Brien, whom I love, which is obviously the reason why I love Stiles.  He’s hilarious, loyal, and – as much as he denies it – heroic.

“The ten-year plan for making Lydia fall in love with me may have to stretch to fifteen, but the plan is definitely still in motion.”

Chandler Bing | F.R.I.E.N.D.S

I don’t love Chandler as much as I am him, which is probably why our marriage wouldn’t last a year, but I’d still take him.  I’ve always wanted to marry a funny guy, and Chandler is a million times that, plus he’s got a super-sweet heart and a genuinely caring spirit.  I’ll take it, even if it’d only last a little while.  (But then I’d give him back to Monica because they’re my otp.)

“I thought that it mattered what I said or where I said it. Then I realized the only thing that matters is that you, you make me happier than I ever thought I could be.  And if you’ll let me, I will spend the rest of my life trying to make you feel the same way.  Monica, will you marry me?”

Shawn Hunter | Boy Meets World

SHAWN IS MY PRECIOUS BABY AND I WILL LOVE HIM ‘TIL THE DAY I DIE.  No kidding, I liked him in the first episode, but I really loved him around Episode 17 – The Fugitive (you know, the episode where he blows up a mailbox).  I just want to love and protect him and give him everything he ever deserved that the world never gave him.  Everything – and I do mean everything – went wrong for him, yet he emerged stronger than anyone thought possible.  GAH.

Cory: Okay, so after the prom, romance in the air, you and Angela, you’re gonna look in each other’s eyes, and…
Shawn: Me and Angela? I don’t know. Maybe. What do you think, we sat down and discussed it? How dorky do you think we are? What about you and Topanga?
Cory: We sat down and discussed it.

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-Chris-Evans1.jpgSteve Rogers | Captain America

Chivalric hero from the ’40s with a super hot body?  Heck yes I would.

Peggy: You have no idea how to talk to a woman, do you?
Steve: I think this is the longest conversation I’ve had with one.  Women aren’t exactly lining up to dance with a guy they might step on.
Peggy: You must have danced…
Steve: Well, asking a woman to dance always seemed so terrifying.  And in the past few years, it just didn’t seem to matter that much.  Figured I’d wait.
Peggy: For what?
Steve: Right partner.

Sir Percy Blakeney | The Scarlet Pimpernel

The same exact sentence for the guy above could literally be used for Percy, so… heck yes I would again.  I own four (4) copies of The Scarlet Pimpernel, various paperback copies of the other books, and I think I’ve read ten out of the sixteen books (and El Dorado is the best).  I love this guy.

Had he but turned back then, and looked out once more on to the rose-lit garden, she would have seen that which would have made her own sufferings seem but light and easy to bear–a strong man, overwhelmed with his own passion and despair. Pride had given way at last, obstinacy was gone: the will was powerless. He was but a man madly, blindly, passionately in love and as soon as her light footstep had died away within the house, he knelt down upon the terrace steps, and in the very madness of his love he kissed one by one the places where her small foot had trodden, and the stone balustrade, where her tiny hand had rested last.

George Knightley | Emma

My first reading of this book (don’t hate me; I’m just now going through my classics phase) basically cemented my love for this guy – and also the fact that Jonny Lee Miller will always be the best Knightley fIGHT ME.

“I cannot make speeches, Emma:” he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.—“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.—You hear nothing but truth from me.—I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.—Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.—But you understand me.—Yes, you see, you understand my feelings—and will return them if you can. At present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice.”

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Jack Pearson | This is Us

Jess who?  Move over, kid – Milo’s back and this time he’s even better than you.  Jack is literally the best male character on the small screen today.  Dad goals, husband goals, friend goals – just everything goals.  In the words of Rebecca, his oh-so-lucky wife, he’s “freaking Superman.”  I’ve loved gushing over him with my mom friends at the preschool playground and I know that I’ll still be gushing over him over the next few years as the show progresses.

“You know, when I was a little boy, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Adults always ask little kids that.  I never had a good answer – not ’til I was twenty-eight.  Until the day that I met you.  That’s when I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wanted to be the man that made you happy.”

What about you?  Any men you’d totally take?  I claim all of these guys, though… at least ’til I find an actual real-life male non-relative to obsess over.  😉

excerpt | the art of letting go.

You guys are amazing and so sweet and I love you all dearly and because I love you, I’m going to give you an excerpt of The Art – the opening scenes.  *Jeremy Jordan voice* But first a story…

I worked on my novel for three or four hours at Starbucks last Friday and – y’all.  Y’allllll.  It was actually so much better than I remembered it.  The little things I loved about it, the general idea of it in my head – all of it was still there.  Obviously, there was a little to work on.  Wording that I rolled my eyes over, phrases that just needed to be cut because my readers aren’t stupid (and I hate it when authors write down to their readers and don’t want to become one), etc etc.  I got through the first two chapters, reworking the beginning to include a scene I wrote for a course last semester.  And it turned out pretty dang good!  I’m really excited about continuing to work on it over this semester – and not nearly as nervous.

So, I was going to write an update post on Sunday (because I was busy watching La La Land, meeting Veronica Roth and getting her to sign her newest book, Carve the Mark, for me, then talking to the owner of a bookstore about working there – as you do on a Saturday).  But then I got my first grade back from one of the last college courses I’m doing (the TESU Capstone, which is kind of a big deal)… and it was pretty bad.  Not only that, the professor said he was “personally disappointed” in me.  To say the least, I was pretty low for a few days.  That night, I ate ice cream and watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which was amazing), then, the next day, got back to my school again.  I had to focus really hard on the next paper – a ten-page literature review *rolls eyes* – but I got it done and the immediate pressure is over so I’m back to write this super late update.  (Also, a friend of mine read The Art and loved it, so that makes me feel a whole lot better.  {pleasedon’thatemeforgivingittoher.})

AAAAAAANYWAY.  It’s been a rough week but it’s almost over, and in celebration of that (and, again, as thanks for being such amazing followers), here are the opening scenes from The Art of Letting Go.  Enjoy.  🙂


The Art of Letting Go | Chapter One – April 12th, 2012.

My eyes flutter open at six-thirty, and I lie there, watching the sunrise slowly light up my room, waiting. Five minutes later, right on cue, my phone buzzes. I smile, roll over slowly, and pick up my phone.

‘Morning, Peach! <3’

My smile widens a little and I yawn before replying, ‘Good morning! Get your workout in?’

The reply comes seconds later. ‘Yep. So ready for Friday!’

‘You’ll crush them, babe.’

‘No duh! Now go get ready!!!’

I drop my phone on the bed beside me, sit up, and stretch. Good morning, world! I toss the decorative pillows back on my partially-made bed and head downstairs, cautiously looking around for Dad. He’s not around – probably already at work – so I check my social media while my single cup of coffee brews. When it’s done, I bring it upstairs and start on my makeup, thinking about my outfit and the day ahead as I brush and blend.

I put my earbuds in, even though I’m the only one in the house – what can I say; it’s a habit – and start up an episode of Thyme Traveler on my phone. I’ve already seen all of the available seasons, so I’m rewatching the whole thing before the next season starts in the fall. I make sure to pick a more lighthearted episode. The last time I did this while putting on my makeup, I watched a season finale and cried. Mascara went everywhere. What a mess, I remember, grinning.

Twenty minutes later, I glance at the clock beside my bed and stop the episode before I get sucked in any more. I finish up and quickly pull on my favorite pair of jeans, then switch them out for shorts, remembering how warm it’ll probably be. Yanking a tank top over my head, I slip into some sandals and pull my messenger bag over my shoulder. I barely have time to transfer my coffee to a to-go cup before running out the door.

I drive to school with the radio up and the window down so the wind can blow in my hair. I’ve done this nearly every day of my junior year and I know it’s made a vast improvement on my perspective on the day. With a little over a year of school left, I can’t imagine not doing this every day. How hard is it to just leave the building you’ve spent most of your waking hours in for the last four years? More than that, to leave and head off into the unknown? True, I’ll spend the next four years after that in another series of buildings… but it seems so different. So much more adult.

My grip on the steering wheel tightens, but I force myself to take deep breaths to try to relax.

I stop at a red light and close my eyes. I’ve got David. We’re going to college together. Everything’s going to be okay. It’s not that big of a deal. Time to grow up.

I open my eyes and mouth this over and over again as I drive the remaining mile. It’s become my mantra over the past few weeks. David helped me with it. Every time I feel the anxiety start to rise, I just repeat it a few times. It usually helps. As David’s graduation date approaches – and mine still remains a year away – it’s getting a little harder. But David is always there to calm me down.

He really is the best boyfriend a girl could ask for, I muse, finally starting to calm down as I pull into the parking lot. I make a mental note to buy him something special on our date tonight.

I enter the building, a smile on my face. The halls are overrun with teenagers, all laughing and teasing and kissing and shouting and running, standing in poorly-formed circles or small groups. All are enjoying a few final moments of freedom before the bell rings.

“Daniella!”

I feel a hand on my arm and turn with a smile. “Hey, babe.”

“Morning, Peach,” David says, wrapping his arms around me. I bury my head in his chest, inhaling the sweet, spicy smell of his cologne. “Sleep well?”

“Mm-hmm.” I close my eyes, soaking in the moment. I could stay here forever.

The moment ends a few seconds later when I finally pull myself away from the security of David’s arms. The cheerful, warm-and-fuzzy feeling stays with me, however. It always does.

We walk down the hall towards our lockers, side by side. This is how we first met. Daniella James and David Jamison. Our lockers have been next to each other ever since I changed schools two years ago. David was the first person to greet me, the first to help me find my class, and the first to make me feel welcome. We’ve been friends ever since. Last year, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I’ve been in a constant state of bliss ever since.

“Are we still on for tonight?” he asks, taking my hand, his fingers entwining with mine.

“Of course,” I answer, swinging his hand back and forth and feeling myself get hypnotized by his Jolly Rancher green eyes.

“Good.” He flashes that billion-dollar grin of his that lights up his entire face and, in turn, the rest of the world. I smile back, once again realizing how lucky I am.

“Think you’ll win the game on Friday night?” I ask, letting go of his hand to get my geometry book out of my locker.

“Absolutely.” He folds his arms across his muscular chest and leans against his locker, facing me. “Peachtree City High has been an easy win for the past four years. I wouldn’t count on anything changing.”

“Me, neither.”
“And you’ll be cheering me on from the sidelines, right?” he asks with a wink.

“Absolutely,” I reply, shutting my locker door. I spin the lock and turn to face him, tilting my head a little. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

David’s smile softens and he leans forward to rest his forehead on mine. Then, he whispers, “That’s why I love you.”

In an instant, I melt. “I love you, too.”

David quickly kisses my forehead before straightening up. “See you at practice?”

“See you,” I reply.

He waves and vanishes into the crowd. I smile and watch him over my shoulder as I walk away. Suddenly, I feel my books being knocked out of my hands. “Hey!” I exclaim, staring at the books.

“I’m so sorry,” the guy replies, kneeling down to pick up my books.

I recognize the head of hair below me and roll my eyes. “Kyle, you’re such a klutz.”

Kyle looks up, relief plainly written on his face. “Oh, it’s just you.” He grins sheepishly. “Sorry, Danni.”

I put a hand on my hip and raise my eyebrows. “Just me? Excuse you.”

“I was worried that it was, like, some new kid or – even worse – a hot girl.”

Excuse me?!”

Kyle stands and puts the books back into my hands. “You know what I mean.”

I squint and lean into his face. “I hate you.”

Kyle smiles with that lopsided grin that is uniquely his just as the first bell rings. “Same to you. Hey, are you gonna be able to come to the photography showcase tonight?”

I frown slightly and start walking towards class. Kyle keeps my pace beside me and waits expectantly for an answer. “Why would I come, Ky? Besides seeing your beautiful photographs, that is.”

“Well, that, obviously, and because you’re a cheerleader and that’s what they do – come to photography showcases and cheer for their favorites. Right?” I laugh and he elbows me. “Right?”

“Right,” I say, checking my phone. A second later, I put my phone back in my pocket and elbow him back. “If I can get off work early, I’ll come. Eight, at the library?”

“Yup,” Kyle says, stopping in front of a classroom. He waves to someone inside, turns to me, points his index finger at my face, says, “Be there!” and saunters into the classroom.

I roll my eyes and head off to class.


Thoughts???

thirteen fantastic movies & what i thought of them.

I did a post like this last year, so I decided to do it again!

Now, before you start saying, “Thirteen movies?!  Well, GOSH, Ashley – you spend so much money on movie tickets!”

  1. I wasn’t allowed to go to the theater much when I was little because (a) there wasn’t much I could see and (b) because my parents always had to pay for my ticket and, because of that, (c) they always had to be slightly interested in the movies as well, so now I go fairly often because I have a car and money to pay for myself.
  2. I never get popcorn or drinks.  (However, I did manage to sneak in a Starbucks frappucino this year.  #win)
  3. I didn’t pay for some of these tickets.  (PRAISE THE LORD FOR PARENTS & PARENTS OF KIDS I NANNY.)
  4. I go at the cheap times.  Every day from 4 to 5:30 at my theater is $6.  BOOM.
  5. I like movies.

Let’s do this thing.  (Links to the trailers are in the movie titles.)

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God’s Not Dead 2 | 1/21

Well.  This one was a colossal flop.  I didn’t even want to talk about it at all when I saw it, and did an April Fools post mainly consisting of Kevin McCreary’s review of it.  I can’t even remember most of what I thought about it, but I know I didn’t like it.  My dad got tickets to a super early screening because he’s a pastor (#perks) and we talked about it on the way there, basically laying out our (super low) expectations and what we wanted it to ultimately do.  It barely met my expectations, and, well, let’s just say that I got more out of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World than this movie.  Not only were there some issues with the court sequence (you cannot have surprise witnesses.  the end.  go home.), there were major issues with the basic story as well.  The one thing I did like, however, was that the hot lawyer (whose face almost made driving 45 minutes to go see this movie worth it) didn’t become a Christian at the end.  I know that may sound awful of me, as a Christian, to say that I’m glad someone didn’t become a Christian.  But think about it – how many movies have you seen where the meek, submissive, Christian main character influences his/her non-Christian rivals so much that they radically turn from their heathen ways and go to church, ending up raising their hands with tears streaming down their faces?  TOO MANY.  And that’s all I’ll say.  For more, watch Kevin’s actual review.  It’s totally worth an hour of your time.  (And this is the longest paragraph.  Obviously.)

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens | 1/28

HECKLES YES.  Back to the good stuff.  So, I had already watched this movie a month before with my relatives, but my friend Katelyn and I wanted to see it again.  So we did.  Four girls (including us and my two sisters) going to a Star Wars movie sounds pretty awesome to me, especially since we spent half of it whispering about how hot Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver are.  (“You know… I can take anything I want.”  *entire row bursts out laughing*)  And there were only like ten people in the theater, including us, so it worked out marvelously.

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Captain America: Civil War | 5/5 & 5/15

SWEET. BUTTERED. CRUMPETS.  What a masterpiece.  What an absolute cinematic masterpiece.  I saw it the first time with my siblings and a friend, and then again with my siblings, my dad’s intern, and Morgan and her sisters.  (This is when we sneaked in our frappucinos.)  Such a good movie.  I loved it so very much.  See my actual, non-fangirly review here.

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Finding Dory | 6/18

I saw this one with friends after exploring World of Coke in Atlanta, and it was super fun!  Our group totally symbolized the majority of the movie’s audience, since our group consisted of six people with ages ranging from sixteen to twenty-five.  We fell in love with Finding Nemo when we were little and gosh darn it we were absolutely gonna see Finding Dory as soon as possible.  I loved it so much.  It actually made half of us cry – that one scene with all the shells, guys.  I’ve heard people say that it’s not as good as the first, but I don’t think they can be compared.  They’re both fantastic movies.  I watched it again on Christmas Day and remembered how much I liked it.  It’s about family and persistence and bravery and it’s just so good.

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The Secret Life of Pets | 7/8

I took my little twins I nanny to see this one, and I think someone went with us (their grandma, I think?), but I can’t remember.  (Stupid brain, lol.)  I thought this movie was cute!  A little confusing, but still adorable.  I wasn’t planning on watching it, but I couldn’t pass up free tickets to see an animated movie that may or may not be good.  I’d watch it again with my younger siblings, if only for Kevin Hart’s adorably hilarious bunny character.

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Star Trek Beyond | 7/24

Goodness gracious.  This has to be one of my favorite movies of the entire year.  I’m not a huge Star Trek fan, but I’ve really enjoyed the reboots.  (Call me what you will, but the original show is so cheesy!)  Even though it was tainted in my mind because of Anton Yelchin’s tragic death the month before, it still made me laugh, sit on the edge of my seat, and even tear up a little.  From what I’ve seen of the show, Beyond was more in the vein of the classic episodes, and contained significantly less objectionable content than the other movies.  Because of that, it just worked.

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Pete’s Dragon | 9/2

I took the twins and my younger sister to see this one, and I knew it would be good, but it absolutely exceeded my expectations.  I’ve always been a Karl Urban fan, but Slightly Evil Lumberjack Karl Urban?  Um, YES PLEASE.  (The first time he came onscreen, my sister and I reached across the two kids between us and waved fingers at one another with excited looks on our faces.)  That, combined with Seneca Crane and Opie’s daughter… yep.  Fangirling about actors aside, it was just beautiful in a cinematographic sense as well.  I loved how they altered the story slightly, and I didn’t miss the songs ’til the credits started rolling.  It’s like the classic, but it’s a little more green and focused on slightly different aspects of the story.  And I was crying in the first scene, if that says anything.  (They showed Pete’s parents dying.  Like, heck no.  Why, Disney.  Why.)  Definitely would’ve liked to see this one in the theater again, but at home will have to do.

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Doctor Strange | 11/8

YIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS.  Honestly, this is one of the cleanest Marvel movies ever, and I have no idea why.  There’s not much language, no sensual stuff, and very little blood.  And when you add BennyC into the mix… wow.  I really enjoyed this one – so much, in fact, that I wrote a critical thinking journal entry on it (a school project, which I got a great grade on).  I haven’t done research to see if the director is a Christian, but there are definite allusions to the Bible and Christian themes.  The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of females in it.  The Ancient One is, I think, female (played by Tilda Swinton {aka the White Witch}), but the character might’ve been ambiguous, and the only other girl is Christine Palmer, played by Rachel McAdams.  McAdams did well in the role, but the role itself isn’t that great.  Christine saves his life once with medical assistance, but she’s barely in fifteen minutes of the movie.  I like my female characters to be kick-butt and awesome.  Besides that, I really liked this one.  Not my favorite Marvel, but not my least favorite either.

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Hamlet {National Theatre Live} | 11/15

I saw this with two friends when I was in Florida for a week.  It was actually perfect timing because I already had to read Hamlet and then watch a production of it, and it was so much fun to go to a coffee shop, read the play, then go see the movie (and be able to say “Yeah, I read the play this morning; no biggie.  Now I’m going to see the version with Benedict Cumberbatch.  Again, no biggie.” when, in fact, it was a biggie).  This is, by far, the most expensive movie ticket I purchased this year ($20), but it was oh. so. worth. it.  The show itself was almost four hours long, and I can’t remember if that included the intermission or not.  I did a three-page review of this for school, and I could ramble almost that much just about Ben’s performance.  (It’ll be the basis on which I judge all other Hamlets.)  The sound production alone had me and my friend fangirling.  Every time he’d soliloquize, the sound would go “FubwubwubwUBWUBWUBWUBWUB” and everybody would slow down and the spotlight would be on Ben and it was just absolutely amazing.  And if anyone has a bootleg, I will send you both of my novels right now in return for it.

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Fantastic Beasts | 11/17

To be completely honest, I didn’t initially like this one when I left it, but I’ve since realized that it’s still pretty good, regardless of the issues I had with the story.  (Spoiler-free, I feel like it was two different stories that met together in the last ten minutes of the movie.)  I still loved Newt, though.  He’s the best thing to happen to Harry Potter since Deathly Hallows Part 2.  So good.  I’ll probably go watch it again and see if my opinion’s changed.  My favorite part of the movie, however, was the fact that I went with a big group of friends, and half of us dressed up in 20’s costumes.  So. Much. Fun.

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Moana | 11/27

OKAY SO I LOVED THIS ONE.  I knew I’d love it ever since I heard about it last year – and, um, hello, it’s LIN, so what’s not to love?!  The music was, obviously, phenomenal.  Loved the cast, loved the story, loved the animation (so beautiful).  I didn’t feel like I was watching a kids movie, which is exactly what I was hoping.  The story was so precious and so relatable – and I LOVED the fact that Moana’s story isn’t centered around a guy.  She’s a princess, but she’s not looking for a prince, and I think that puts her a cut above all of the other princesses.  I mean, I love all of the Disney princesses, but her story seems so much more pure because her story has to do with doing something meaningful to benefit her people, not sleeping while waiting for true love’s kiss or waiting for a prince to find her or falling in love with the guy who keeps her imprisoned in a castle.  (Yes, this is my feminist side coming out.  #dealwithit)

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Hacksaw Ridge | 12/10

This was the first R-rated movie I’ve seen in the theater.  I went with my dad for my birthday and he loved it almost as much as I did.  Truth be told, I knew very little about the story when I saw it (I saw the trailer when it first came out, but by the time I saw it, I’d forgotten what was in it), and that makes me even more glad that I watched it because it was amazing and so inspirational!  It’s based on a true story about a guy who saved dozens upon dozens of soldiers during WWII.  I loved the fact that they portrayed his faith and his stance against violence and war without demeaning him for it or making him look stupid.  And it stars Andrew Garfield, so obviously it was amazing.

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Rogue One | 12/28

I went into this one with pretty low expectations – not because I didn’t think it would be good (I knew it would be), but because I’m still not much of a Star Wars fan.  But hooooooo boy.  SO GOOD.  I adored it, actually.  By the end, I was shipping characters so hard that the only thing keeping me from yelling “JUST KISS HER ALREADY!!!” was the fact that my fourteen-year-old cousin was sitting a few seats over and I didn’t want to set a bad example.  For real, though, it blew almost every other movie I’ve seen this year (in the theater at least) out of the water.  The story was so unique and the characters were all so wonderful.  GAH.  I loved it.

What do you think of my list?  Have you seen any of these?  Want to fangirl with me?!